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Monday, July 23, 2018
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Daily Saint

August 16: St. Stephen of Hungary

St. Stephen was born around 969 in Hungary. This saint's name had been Vaik. When he became a Christian at the age of ten, he was given the name of Stephen. At the same time, his father, the duke of Hungary, and many nobles also became Christians. However, when Stephen himself became king, the country was still quite pagan. Some people were violent and fierce. So he decided to establish the Church solidly in Hungary. His efforts were blessed by God. The secret of St. Stephen's amazing success in leading his people to the Christian faith was his devotion to Mary. He placed his whole kingdom under her protection and built a magnificent church in her honor.

Pope Sylvester II sent a beautiful king's crown to Stephen. This treasure became known as the crown of St. Stephen. During the Second World War, American soldiers captured the crown. However, it was returned to Hungary in 1978.

Stephen was a strong, fearless ruler. He enforced just laws. But he was also gentle and kind to the poor. He tried to avoid war as much as he could. He loved to give gifts of money to beggars without letting them know who he was. Once he was giving these gifts in disguise when a crowd of rough beggars knocked him down and struck him. They pulled his hair and beard, and stole his money pouch. They never could have imagined they were bullying their king. And they never found out from him. He took the insult quietly and humbly. He forced his thoughts to turn to Mary and prayed: "See, Queen of heaven, how your people have treated him whom you made king. If they were enemies of the faith, I would know what to do with them. But since they are your Son's subjects, I will take this joyfully. I say thank you for it." In fact, King Stephen made a promise then and there to give more than ever to beggars.

Stephen was king of Hungary for forty-two years. He died on August 15, 1038. St. Stephen was proclaimed a saint by Pope St. Gregory VII in 1083.

Reflection: This king was gentle, kind, and loved to give gifts to beggars without letting them know who he was. Today, what must I do to respond the call of love without any reservations?